Did the Creation of the United Nations Human Rights Council Produce a Better 'Jury'?

Author: 
Adam Chilton
with: 
Robert Golan-Vilella

In 1946, the United Nations (UN) created a body comprised of member states known as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to promote international human rights. The CHR was consistently plagued with accusations that it was a bad “jury” because its members frequently had abhorrent human rights records. To remedy this problem, in 2006 a reform eliminated the CHR and replaced it with a new body with modified membership rules known as the Human Rights Council (HRC). It is not clear, however, whether the 2006 reform was effective. Using data on the human rights practices of all members of the UN and the relevant bodies from 1998 to 2013, we evaluate whether the 2006 reform helped fix the CHR’s membership problem. We find that the human rights records of the members of the HRC are better on average than the records of the CHR’s members were, but that the human rights records of the members of the HRC still are worse than the average UN member not on the HRC.